Work Between Races

[Big thanks to Tobey's dad, Robert, for doing all the body work.  It was a lot of work; we really appreciate it.]

We came out of the Daytona race in pretty good shape.  Another ding on the right front fender, but otherwise unscathed.  In the past, we've had discussions about repainting the car, but never made a serious plan.  But with the unveiling of the new team shirts at Daytona, and the general filthiness that attaches to the car over 8,818 miles of racing, plus several hundred more miles of testing, we decided it was time.  (Seriously, the grime wouldn't come off the car with soap and a scrub brush...)
 
See, clean new shirts, grimy old car (click on images for larger photos):
 
 
We played around with a couple of color schemes to match the shirts, and finally settled on a design.  But the car needed a lot of body work, and there's only so many nights and weekends.  So we weren't sure if it would get done before the next race in September at Texas Motor Speedway.  Luckily, my dad was coming to Houston for a few weeks to house and dog sit for my aunt and uncle.  He said that he would be willing to help, so I trailered the car over there, and put him to work.

The first order of business was to pull the dents as much as possible.  To make that as easy as possible, I bought a stud welder.  It's very simple to use; you scrape all the paint away, and weld a little stud to the sheet metal.  Then, you use a slidehammer to latch onto the stud and pull the dent.




Once you have the dents pulled to your satisfaction, you have to grind off all the little studs.  The next step is to fill in the remaining imperfections with Bondo.  It's better to spend a little more time pulling the dents, as you don't want a thick layer of Bondo.  This step is where you do a lot of sanding.  You want to blend the Bondo to the surrounding unmolested sheet metal as smoothly as possible.  Once you get that finished, you shoot a layer of primer, and sand it again to give yourself as smooth a surface as possible for painting.


After all this work, it's finally ready for paint.  Time to fire up the air compressor, clean out the paint gun, and start spraying...  Actually, no.

Then, we must be planning take it to Maaco or somewhere similar for a cheap spray...  Actually, no.

You see, it's a race car.  It's going to get dinged and beat up again, so we didn't attempt to make flawless repairs.  There was a point where we said, "Good enough."  And it's the same with the paint.  The car needs to look good on track, or rolling through the paddock (hopefully on the way to the winner's circle); it doesn't need to withstand up-close scrutiny.  So, we painted it with spray cans.  Really.  And it turned out pretty nice, to be honest.

The first thing we did was mask off the windows, number panels, and the sponsor stickers on the rear fenders.  Then, we lightly sanded the entire car to give a good surface for the paint, and to get all the grime off that wouldn't wash off.  We then redid the white paint.  Once the white paint dried, we masked it all off for the red and black.

Before:


After:



Once we got it back to the hangar, we decided it needed a black pinstripe to separate the red and white.  It's amazing what a thin little piece of vinyl tape will do for the appearance.


And a few more shots of the completed car:


 So what else is going on with the Ole #92?

At the Daytona race, we received our free Optima battery.  Great company: sponsor the series and give all the competitors a free battery. 
We decided to mount the battery in the rear of the car for better weight distribution.


But, the battery being in that location poses a problem if we ever need to jump start the car or change the battery during a race.  It's not very accessible.  But that's an easy problem to fix.  We used some high-amperage connectors and wired in a connection for jumper cables. That also means I had to modify a set of jumper cables with that same connector.  I also made a set of battery cables with the same connector, so that if we have have the need, we can stick a battery back in the original location and just plug it in, making for a very quick change.  



Lastly, to help us find the pit stall during a race, we made a "lollipop" to suspend out on a pole to guide the car in; you've seen all the Nascar teams use them.  It's not finished yet; it still needs a "Nismorons' sticker down the middle, but you get the idea:

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